At 86 Repairs, we recommend you take a proactive approach to preparing your restaurants for winter. The “real winter” weather may seem far off, a problem to be dealt with in the depths of January. Until an untimely snow storm blows through your city, leaving you scrambling to prepare your restaurants for colder temps and equipment that is more prone to breaking down.
Take our word for it: prepare your restaurant for winter now, to ensure peace of mind later.
5 Ways to Prepare Your Restaurant for Winter
1. Change your filters
Filter changes should be happening every quarter, but it’s especially important that you take the time to switch yours out before winter weather hits. Replacing your filters ensures that your equipment will continue to run smoothly, and that dangerous clogs caused by seasonal and urban particulate (think: cottonwood, exhaust, fibers - even hairs and dander) won’t occur.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: change your filters in spring to tune up your HVAC, and change your filters the month before the first frost of the year to tune up for heating.
2. HVAC tune up
Speaking of that HVAC tune up, now’s the time to do it on the heating side. If your customers can’t take their coats off because your restaurant isn’t holding heat, you’re negating the customer experience you’ve worked so hard to create.
Here’s the hit list you should follow for a great HVAC tune up:
Change of filters (so important, we had to say it twice)
Inspection and cleaning of inlets and outlets
Review of motor belt tension and potential fraying
Inspection of motor pulley
Temperature control assessment
Remember, you probably haven’t turned on your heat for a good 4-6 months. We typically hear about heating issues and needed repairs in November, so testing out your system to make sure it’s fully functional now is a smart business decision.
3. Check windows, doors, and roofs
No one wants to eat in a drafty dining room, and snow and ice accumulating on your roof can lead to leaks. Before you’re ankle-deep in snow, check that your windows, doors, and roof are well-insulated. Here’s how:
Conduct a visual inspection for any visible air gaps
Use your hand to test for drafts and air gaps around the perimeter of exterior openings
If your restaurant has a glass atrium or a rooftop bar, you’ll need to take additional measures. Glass atriums should be audited for gaps in insulation before shutting down for the winter. Rooftop seating areas are a money maker in warmer months, but when the cold comes, you’ll want to have outdoor heaters available to extend patio season. If you’re in a city where that’s out of the question, be sure to shut off the gas and water in your rooftop kitchen.
4. Make-up air
Your make-up air equipment offsets the air that’s being produced by equipment in your restaurant, but it can become a nuisance in the wintertime. Make-up air equipment warms up fresh air from outside your restaurant, but only to a certain extent - maybe 30 degrees fahrenheit.
Think of it this way: in Chicago, winter temperatures can drop far below freezing. If the temperature is -10 degrees fahrenheit, and your make-up air can only heat it up 30 degrees, you’ll be pumping 20 degree air into your restaurant.
Preempt that disaster by solving the problem before temperatures drop. If you’re finding that your make-up air equipment works well on mild days, but colder days leave a lot to be desired, your high fire limit may be set too low. Give us a call and we’ll help you out.
5. Prep for extreme cold
The kiss of death for a busy restaurant: burst pipes. This equipment malfunction is most likely to happen during the winter, when the extremely cold temperatures can cause metal pipes to contract and crack or burst.
Best practices for insulating your pipes include keeping your restaurant no colder than 60 degrees fahrenheit, and housing a blow dryer in your kitchen to defrost pipes that may be starting to freeze.
Winter is coming, but the corresponding equipment issues don’t have to tag along. Of course you could prepare your kitchen for winter on your own - but why would you want to? With a little help from 86 Repairs, we can keep your kitchen up and running through any and every season.